Open Adoption Blog


Talking to Kids About Adopting a Sibling

If you are parenting and planning to expand your family through adoption, your child will likely be very curious about what this means for them and for your family. It is important to prepare your child for an adoptive sibling by discussing what it means with them. Encourage your child to ask questions, and respond with honest and age appropriate answers

Talking to your child about adoption plansPlanning, Home Study, and Wait Time

As you are probably aware, every adoption includes a home study to determine if your home is s safe physical and emotional place for a child. As part of the home study, the social worker will need to speak with your child in an age appropriate way about the adoption. You should explain this process to your child. Explain that the social worker is coming to your home to ensure it is a safe place for a new baby or child. Explain that the social worker will ask them how they feel about having a new sibling, and may also ask them what they know and how they feel about adoption. Children should be reassure that there is no “right” answer and they can answer truthfully about their feelings.

It is also important to manage your child’s expectations about the adoption. If you do not know when their adoptive sibling will join your family (which is usually the case), you should discuss the adoption as a plan for sometime in the future. Do not give your child a specific length of time that it will take to adopt.

One of the most important things to remember is that children should not be asked to keep secrets: If there’s anything about the adoption that you want to keep private, don’t ask your child to hold that secret as well. Do not share that information with your child or allow them to overhear you discussing confidential information with another person.

It is also important to prepare your child for potentially intrusive questions from others. These may include questions about why the sibling does not share their race or ethnicity or questions about who their sibling’s “real” parents are. Explain that they are not required to answer questions from strangers. Role-play possible scenarios your child might face using positive adoption language. Your child will follow your lead. If you respond to questions with confidence and pride, they will too.

Just as in all cases where a new sibling comes into the home, make special time for your older child, and show empathy for his or her adjustment. As you participate in your child’s activities, introduce them to the idea of sharing these activities with a little brother or sister. Bring up the idea as you go through your daily routines. The goal is to make the plan familiar to your child, and to cultivate their excitement at becoming an older sibling.

During a Match and Pre-Finalization

Discussing a match with a birth family is a tricky part of the process to navigate with your child. During the match and placement, but before the birthparents sign the paperwork to terminate their parental rights, avoid calling the baby “your brother/sister”. During this stage of the adoption, tell your child that your family is taking care of the baby while the birthparent decides if she/he will be able to parent.

If a birthparent reclaims the baby after placement, it is very important to discuss it with your child, even if they are not bringing it up. Make sure your child knows the baby is going to be okay, and that your child did not cause the reclaim. You should also ensure your child understands that he or she will never be taken away. You can let your child know that your plans are still the same: you will eventually expand your family, but this just was not the time.

Its Your Responsibility

Even if child is not bringing up the topic they are still having thoughts and feelings about your adoption plans. It is your job as a parent to initiate the conversation by asking questions about how they are feeling.

It is important to note that children’s questions don’t indicate regret regarding their or their siblings adoption, nor do they automatically imply a negative emotional reaction. It is most likely just a natural curiosity and a desire for logical answers.

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Birthmom: To the Woman I Didn’t Pick

Editor: In this heartfelt letter, a birthmother shares her feelings with the family she almost chose. From Blessings in a Basket:

To the beautiful woman that I didn’t pick,

I want you to know that I think about you often. I want you to know that I loved your family. I want you to know that you and your husband were a beautiful family and that I felt that you had so much to offer.

I want you to know that I poured over your profile. In a stack of a hundred families you stood out, for whatever reason, my heart skipped a beat when I looked at your profile and I knew that you were in the running.

You shared your amazing story with me, an expectant mother, your deepest sadness and yearning for a child. You shared your heartbreaking story of all of the children that you lost to miscarriage. You shared the tears and pain of infertility. You opened up about the guilt and shame and anger that you felt about not being able to have a child biologically. You shared your heart and the heart of your husband. The tears that you shed together.

And then you shared your story of hope, the hope that a woman like me would pick a woman like you. That I would find you and be drawn to you, that I would want to meet you and that I would bond with you and love you immediately. That I would fulfill your dreams of becoming a mother. You promised me an open adoption, you promised to love my son like he was your own flesh and blood, that he would be raised to love God and that he would know me and always know my love for him.

I want you to know that you stood out. I want you to know that I wanted to pick you. I want you to know that I prayed over you and your husband. I want you to know that I still do.

I think about you often. You are in my heart, just as present as the woman that I picked to be a mother to my son. I know you were informed that I was looking at your profile. I know that you had to live through the rejection. I want you to know how sorry I am and that you did nothing wrong.

I picked her. I picked them. They are amazing people. They are an amazing family and have been the perfect family for me and for that beautiful boy.

I didn’t pick you. You are amazing people. You would have been an amazing family and could have been the perfect family for me and that beautiful boy.

I think about you and hope and pray often that you have been picked. That you found a woman that was like me all those years ago. That she poured over your profile and cried as I did. That she was inspired by you as I was, that they called you and met you and that you have been able to fulfill all those same promises that you made to me. That she was able to help you become a mother…a mother that you have always dreamed of being.

You can read the rest of the letter at Blessings in a Basket.

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IAC Adoption Experts Featured on Parenting Website

Our longtime readers know that here at the IAC, as the home of many nationally recognized thought leaders in adoption, we love to share information and knowledge about adoption in general, and open adoption in particular. So when we learned that a new website would be launching featured instructional videos about all aspects of parenting, we were happy to lend our efforts to help educate their audience on adoption topics.
Video screenshot of Dr. Jennifer Bliss
That website is KidsInTheHouse.com, and counted among the site’s adoption experts are IAC’s Dr. Jennifer Bliss, LCSW and Dr. Guylaine Hubbard-Brosmer, MSW. In over a dozen videos, they explain various aspects of the adoption process from the perspective of the adoptive parents.

To see an example, wherein Dr. Bliss highlights the difference between open and closed adoptions, click here or on the video thumbnail to the right.

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An IAC Family Gets an Early Father’s Day Gift

Chris and Thom are an IAC family from Southern California, and brand-new parents of a beautiful baby girl. In the segment below, they tell their adoption story, just in time for Father’s Day.

Chris and Thom

It starts like any other Friday. Morning coffee, off to work, lunch with colleagues. Phone rings – don’t recognize the number. Send to voicemail. Phone rings again – OK, must be important. You’ve been picked. You’re having a baby scheduled for delivery in a few hours. In Oceanside. Go.

From our early years dating we knew we wanted to build a family though it took us some time to get there. Finishing education, advancing careers, finding the house – all these were more immediately on the horizon but the mutual dream was there. If we were a straight couple perhaps the unexpected could have happened and you roll with it. Not so for us; we had the luxury of taking all the time we wished to prepare. And then the time felt right. Maybe because things were in a good place for having a family. Maybe it was because we were pushing 40. Either way, we were ready to have a baby.

Before meeting each other, we shared the same worries. The idea of having a family one day was a dream, but would our future spouse want the same? And what about raising children in a gay household – what would they experience in school. Was this right, was this possible? How would we do it?

You can read the rest of their story at LGBT Weekly.

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IAC Releases Annual Report 2013

We are happy to announce the release of our Annual Report for 2013. The report is designed to keep all stakeholders informed about the status of the organization. Whether you’re a client, donor, employee, or just a fan, we think you’ll find the information inside valuable and enlightening. Here are some of the highlights:
Screenshot of our Annual Report

  • We expanded with new offices and licenses in Florida and Connecticut.
  • Published a book, True Stories of Open Adoption, in softcover and e-book formats.
  • Provided open adoption information to 2,968 women considering their options.
  • Ended the year with a deficit due to expansion, but with a healthy store of assets.

You can download the PDF of the full report here.

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What makes adoption difficult?

Few things come to mind when I think about what made my adoption experience difficult. I choose to remember the good things now that I am here on the other side, but if I were honest with myself, then I would remember that there were difficult times during the journey too.

Woman rock climbing

Sometimes adoption feels like this.

I think the number one difficult thing for those going through the adoption journey is the unknown element. There is no way to know when and how your baby will come into this world. In my personal experience not knowing the time or way my child was to come was the single most difficult thing. We ask ourselves, will our baby be born tomorrow or in three years? Will our baby be born exposed to drugs or alcohol? Who will be the extended family of our child? What are the genetic characteristics our child will have? Will our child be born close or far away? All these questions and so many more are some of the things that make adoption difficult.

The one thing I have found that helps with the unknown elements of adoption is to acknowledge them and let them go. There are some things in your control and many things in the adoption journey that are not. At some point during my journey, I remember reaching a place where I reluctantly let the process happen and accepted the wait and the unknowns. By no means was this easy and it was a slow process. I had many experiences that caused me to adjust my thinking and accept the things I could not change and find the positive in the moment. Acceptance is really hard, especially when you are longing for something and have been actively seeking that thing for so long. Acceptance is also not solid. What I mean by that is some days you are firm in your conviction of acceptance of the journey and some days you are not. Over time the key is to have more days of acceptance and less days of worry and anxiety.

The difficulties of adoption might weigh you down. Some might struggle with grief associated with your own loss of the ability to have a child. For some the difficulty may be struggling with allowing your child’s birth parents in his/her life and being open to a different family definition. Some of us struggle with the financial commitment to adoption and wonder why you have to have a child this way when others seem to achieve parenthood in a much simpler way.

These feelings are valid and normal. The difficulties in adoption can become mountains of achievement in the end. You can reach the time when you say to yourself, “I struggled through those feelings and found peace.” Is this Easy? No. Achievable? Absolutely!

Even now as I long for another child and think of starting the adoption journey once again I see the reality of difficulties. I know there will be times of uncertainty and unknown, but I also know eventually things will happen that will be the right situation for me and my family. Adoption is difficult, but Oh so worth it!

Finding ways to make it through the low days can help you. Some ideas include:

  • Taking a vacation from the adoption journey. This can help especially if you have been waiting for a while. Go somewhere, or just take a break from checking statistics and surfing the Internet. Make sure you get the alerts to your phone and email if a birth mother contacts you, then stop thinking about it for a while. Assign another family member to help answer the phones and emails. Easier said than done, but really good for your soul.
  • Go to support group where others on the journey are. It is good to talk to others going through the same things you are. It is also good to see the adoption successes.
  • Try a new outreach method you have not done before, such as setting up a facebook account just for your adoption journey, sending greeting cards to all your friends and relatives telling them again that you’re looking to adopt, or re-design your letter if it has been a while.
  • Talk to a counselor or arrange a time to meet with your adoption social worker to discuss the feelings you are having.
  • Spend time doing something that brings you joy not associated with having a baby, such as hiking, shopping, time with family or friends, or travel.
  • Discuss with your partner or family ways to help you when you are feeling low and obsessing on the adoption, such as a phone call or text message to help snap you out of the negative thoughts.
  • For those who have adopted and are struggling, seek support of others who have adopted and find support through your social worker.

These are just some ideas that may help you on your adoption journey. For some the difficulties are very minimal and for other they can seem insurmountable. Be aware that everyone is at a different place and avoid comparisons of your journey with others. Remember the adoption journey is a marathon and not a sprint. Reach out for help and be kind to yourself. There are difficulties in any endeavor that is truly worth it, and adoption is truly worth it.

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When Mother’s Day is Hard

Editor: What struggles do adoptive mothers contend with on Mother’s Day? In the following post, IAC alumni Traci tells her story about facing down her conflicting emotions this past Sunday.

Traci with kids and birthmoms

Traci with her two children and their birthmothers.

Mother’s Day is not always as pretty as a Hallmark card. In fact, for many of us out there, Mother’s Day has a drop (or a tsunami) of sad or mad mixed in. If you have experienced loss or infertility on your path to motherhood or are still waiting desperately, you know what I am talking about. For me, as an adoptive parent who also has a history of infertility, Mother’s Day is always a roller coaster of emotions—both joyful and hard.

This year, I woke up feeling tired and a little off. My son snuck into the bed and snuggled in with a big smile on his face. This is what I was waiting for. As soon as he was done snuggling and ready for action, my sweet husband rustled him downstairs so I could sleep in a little more. While I dozed, he created a beautiful breakfast. Afterwards, we went for a family walk/bike ride to the neighborhood pond. It was a beautiful day. My kids were in a good mood. Have we reached Hallmark card fabulous yet?

Well….almost. Remember, I woke feeling a bit off, and I wasn’t fighting a cold or anything like that. Despite all this great stuff happening, I felt a little sad. Weighed down, really. You see, our children’s birthmothers had joined us the day before for a Birth Mother’s Day celebration, and our daughter’s birthmother, who lives out of town, had spent the night. Seeing them always makes me feel joyful because they truly are two beautiful women who did something so big for my husband and I that I can never really put into words how grateful we feel. But seeing them also reminds me of how much they sacrificed for me to have this beautiful Mother’s Day morning—something that makes me literally ache inside for them and shoots little bursts of guilt down my spine. Then there’s the grief I feel for my own lost and never-to-be pregnancies. And finally, because I couldn’t have been a mother without our birthmothers, I know I will always share Mother’s Day—something that the small, childish part of me sometimes rebels against. As I say to my 4-year-old son almost daily, “It really is hard to share.”

But then again, with adoption, that sharing goes both ways. Take that morning. So, after my precious hour of sleeping in, I woke to some wonderful smells brewing downstairs and decided it was time to get out of bed. I heard my daughter laughing and talking with her birthmother in her room and, even though the thing I wanted most in that moment was to get a kiss from my daughter first thing on Mother’s Day, I tiptoed past her room so they could have that special moment together. After all, I get kisses every morning, but her birthmother does not. A few minutes later, my daughter (prompted by her birthmother, I am sure) came downstairs with her Mother’s Day card and wished me a Happy Mother’s Day with a hug and a kiss. As I am hugging all my love into my little girl, I am highly aware of her birthmother sitting upstairs by herself with the knowledge that, had she made another choice, she wouldn’t have had to share this moment.

You can read the rest of the blog post at Traci’s blog: Tools for a Life Worth Living.

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Things You Should Never Say to Adopted Children

Adoptive parents are typically required to attend educational classes and read books on open adoption, but that may be where the educating stops. As open adoptions are becoming more and more common, it is important for the public to understand some of the basics surrounding children of open adoption. Below are a few examples of some of the things you should never say to children who have been adopted:

1. Who are your real parents?

Most adopted children have known their adoptive parents since birth and therefore do not know any different. The only family they know is their adoptive family, their forever family. Adoptive parents should always talk to their children about their adoption story so they are well aware of why their birthparents chose adoption.

2. Why would your real parents give you away?

Every adoption story is different and every child has the right to decide whether or not they want their story shared. Families should talk to their children about their adoption story and explain to their children that they don’t necessarily have to share their story with anyone. They also have the right to share certain parts of their story.

3. You must hate your real parents for giving you away?

Children of open adoption are not “given away.” Birthparents make a selfless and responsible decision to place their children for adoption. By choosing an adoptive family, they know who will raise their child and can continue to have ongoing contact. By keeping an open relationship, everyone will always know the adoption was made out of love.

4. Do you ever think about leaving your adoptive family and going to live with your real parents?

By having knowledge of their adoption story and access to their birthparents, children of open adoption don’t feel the need to go out of their way to find their birthparents or fantasize about them.

5. Who do you love more, your real parents or your adoptive parents?

Children of adoption certainly have love for their birthparents, but the love that they have for their birth family will never replace the love they have for their parents.

6. Being adopted must be hard.

Though being adopted is a part of the child’s identity, it certainly does not make up their whole lives or create restrictions for them. Children of open adoption are unique, just like every other child.

7. Why do you look different then your parents?

Love makes a family, not the resemblances one has to their parents.

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Indiana’s New Adoption Tax Credit

Good news for families thinking about adopting a baby in Indiana: Governor Mike Pence has recently signed into law a new tax credit for Hoosier families that adopt.

Indiana State House

Indiana State House

After Pence announced in his recent State of the State address that he wanted Indiana to be “the most pro-adoption state in America”, the state legislature began work on  the tax credit bill, HEA 1222.

The new law will take effect beginning taxable year 2015, and will grant families a non-refundable $1,000 tax credit per eligible child. In the future this amount could change because its tied to the federal Adoption Tax Credit. Indiana will offer either 10% of the federal level, or $1,000, whichever is less.

In addition to the tax credit, the new law also establishes a committee to study adoption services nationwide, and make recommendations based on their findings. This committee will provide a report to the Governor and the Indiana Department of Child Services by this coming November.

Many adoption professionals have hopes this will lead to more adoption friendly policies in Indiana, including a potential subsidy for adoptive families.

If you would like more information about adopting a baby in Indiana, please contact IAC at (317) 887-2015 or by clicking here.

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Big Sister in Adoption: Big Rewards, Big Responsibility

Editor: Lauren is a big-sister to two IAC alumni. In this post she describes her experience with adoption and shares her plan to give back: a fundraiser for IAC at her jewelry boutique.

Lauren's jewelry fudraiser

Lauren’s custom made jewelry benefits IAC in April!

I wasn’t adopted, but my two siblings were. I was 11 when my brother Dylan was born, and was so excited to finally have a little brother to play with. Because I was so much older, it made playing together very fun. Whether it was making roads with his Thomas the Tank Engine train set, guessing games on Blue’s Clues or dressing him up and pretending he was my own, there was no doubt in my mind that he was always meant to be my little brother. Now as a 17 year-old almost adult, Dylan is so unique, artistic and humorous. Some might say he was born with these traits, but I like to think he grew up influenced by me.

My sister Alexis was born when I was 20 years old. She came as more of a surprise to me, because I wasn’t really sure about how I felt adopting another sibling. Up until the day she was born, I still wasn’t sure, until after I saw her for the first time. Once she came into the room and we all held her, I knew she was ours. As only 4lbs 14oz, she was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. I was overcome with joy to have a little sister. From the moment I held her, she has been a spark of happiness in all of our lives. She has taught me patience, understanding and gratitude.

The best part about being the oldest, is how much they look up to me. I know I have a strong influence on the two of them, and try to lead by example. I follow my dreams, and care about my family very much. While the three of us are far apart in age, we have learned independence and self-determination. Our family is unique, blended, and centered around unconditional love for one another.

The Independent Adoption Center has done a lot for our family, and so I am looking forward to giving back to them. I will be forever grateful to the IAC for giving our family two wonderful children. As a Merchandiser for Chloe and Isabel, a direct-selling jewelry company, I plan to donate 10% of the total sales that I make this month to the IAC. Please join me in supporting my business and the IAC by making a purchase by clicking here.

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