Open Adoption Blog

What About the Birthfathers?

As one of the adoption counselors at IAC I constantly share tidbits of my personal adoption experience with current and prospective clients. My two children (now young adults) have the same birthmother with three bio-siblings and my daughter placed a baby in an open adoption several years ago.

I am very impressed with my daughter and her son’s birthfather because they are committed to doing shared visits with the adoptive family even though they did not stay together (much like her own placement situation). Their child is growing up knowing who his birthparents are, and his parents are very appreciative to have them in their lives. We all hope that this ongoing relationship will always continue.

Our son and his birthfather.

Our son and his birthfather.

Our Son’s Birthfather

We met our son’s birthfather one time, in a very unique situation. We were at our daughter’s birthmother’s (Stacy) house when our daughter was a few months old. Stacy, our daughter’s birthfather, several other birth family members and the guy that Stacy was currently dating (Tim) were all there. As if that whole situation didn’t seem strange enough….Tim was himself an adult adoptee who was VERY excited about open adoption because his adoption was closed and he had questions and had been unable to find his birthmother. None of us at that visit could have ever imagined that Tim would end up being our son’s birthfather.

It wasn’t until several months later that Stacy finally called my husband and I to tell us that she was pregnant again, and to ask if we would also adopt this baby. Of course we said yes and our son Geremy was born about six weeks later. We also discovered that Tim was his birthfather, but he had apparently had moved out of the area. At this point we assumed that he was so embarrassed that he had gotten Stacy pregnant again that he left the area on his own accord.

Fast-forward about 21 years and we still had a wonderful relationship with Stacy, her husband and her three younger children. Shortly after our son Geremy turned 21, I received an email from Stacy that read:

Thought I should drop you a quick note. I received an email from Geremy’s birthfather, Tim, yesterday, and have responded. Not sure how I’m feeling about it right now. I wanted to find out if I can give him your contact info (email address) if he asks about Geremy. I don’t know if Geremy is wanting any info from him, but I would like to grab the opportunity, if he does.

My heart started racing as I read it and like Stacy, I also had some mixed emotions as all sorts of scenarios and questions began to run through my head. One of the first things that came to mind was, “Why now and where is he coming from in terms of establishing contact now?” Of course I said yes, but I wanted to get a better understanding of the situation before I said anything to Geremy. A mother’s protective instinct is very strong, and I wanted to serve as the “go-between” in establishing contact. I emailed Tim that same day and his response (with the subject being “Adopted Too”) was:

I’m nervous and excited about knowing Geremy. I only hope that he feels the same.
I am searching him out now because I didn’t want to interfere with your raising him.
It is important to me that he was at least 21 before trying to find him. I know what it’s like to be adopted. Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting you all. Thank you for all you have done being parents.

From that point forward we quickly not only established contact with our son’s birthfather, but they had their first visit and now have an ongoing relationship. Most of their communication is via text messaging and Facebook, and Tim sends a gift every birthday and Christmas.

This reunion was something I never expected. For years I thought I was protecting my son by not talking about his birthfather to avoid giving him the impression that Tim didn’t care. I realized that I should have spoken about him even though I did not have much information and Stacy was also available to answer questions. A lesson learned that I now share with clients!

Our Daughter’s Birthfather

Seeing her brother connect with his birthfather led our daughter Marielle to wonder about her birthfather as well. She knew we had a few visits with him (AJ) when she was a baby, but he did not keep in contact with us after about the first two years, despite the fact that Stacy made an effort to continue to invite him to visits.

Eventually, I was able to get some contact information for him but I wasn’t sure if it was for the right person. I made an attempt to call, but the phone just rang. It took me a long time before I finally sat down and wrote him a note, mailed it and gave him my email address.

About ten days later I received an email with the subject line “Marielle.” In it, he stated that I had found the right person and gave his direct contact information. He said it was good to hear from us and to call any time… I did. We talked for nearly an hour and he is anxious to have the chance to talk to Marielle directly. One thing that stood out about our conversation was that he said he didn’t try to contact us because he knew that Marielle was in good hands, and he didn’t have to worry about her.

Both of our birthfather stories show that despite going for over 20 years without contact, neither of them forgot about the children they fathered. Both of them indicated in their own ways that the preceding years without contact was because they didn’t want to interfere with or bother us. They also just as clearly indicated that they still love these two beautiful children!

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Traditional Match Versus A Last-Minute Placement

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by IAC’s adoptive parent, Tyler Watson, on the pros and cons of adopting through a last-minute hospital placement vs. through the traditional process of waiting.

UnknownMy family has now gone through two adoptions. When we adopted our son in 2012, we had a last-minute placement. The adoption of our twin daughters this year happened through a traditional match in which our first contact with the birthmother came about six weeks before delivery.

Both types of placement have their benefits and unique stresses. How you respond to either situation depends on both your personality and preparation. For example, I prefer well-crafted plans and found the last-minute placement extremely stressful. My wife, on the other hand, was better able to roll with the disruption the last-minute placement brought to our plans. I appreciated the longer time to prepare in the traditional match, whereas my wife grew impatient waiting. Knowing what both types of matches entail allows adoptive parents to prepare emotionally and psychologically for them.

Traditional Match

The traditional match in which birth families contact adoptive parents during the pregnancy has a longer on-ramp as everyone waits for the child to arrive. This on-ramp allows for time to foster a strong, trusting relationship between adoptive and birth parents. We spent a good amount of time on the phone and in-person with our daughters’ birthmother, her family, and the birthfather.

Matching is a bit like dating, as all parties wonder if they want to enter a familial relationship with each other. There are many questions to ask and answer. Some of these questions are trivial, like what are your favorite foods? Others are deeply personal, like how important is religion in your life? We have to figure out how to negotiate our differences. If the birthparents and adoptive parents are willing to do their homework during this time, the wait before birth can be productive. It can lead to greater trust in the decision to adopt/place and in each other.

On a practical level, adoptive parents can use the time between match and birth to nest and prepare for the child to come home. Some adoptive families have been nesting all along and now there is the added joy of knowing you are not preparing for just any baby, but are readying your home to welcome this specific person into your family.

The longer on-ramp in a traditional match, however, brings with it the festering worry that the adoption might fall apart. There is plenty of time to second-guess your decision, to wonder if the birthparents are second-guessing their decisions, and to ask over and over again the unanswerable question, “How do I know this is the absolute right match?” Matching with a birthmother who lives far away may also means traveling to her a few times, increasing the costs of adoption.

It is also natural to have concerns about the baby’s health because we cannot control the birthmother, what she eats, how much she exercises, or if she goes to all of her prenatal appointments. We certainly worried about this, especially as our twin daughters seemed determined to be born prematurely. We said a prayer of thanks for each day they remained in the womb. But as adoptive parents we must remember that even if we were pregnant we could not control the child’s health. Pregnant families who attend every prenatal visit and live extremely healthy lifestyles still have babies born with complications. An infant could need to stay in the NICU even if her birthmother exercised every day.

Last-Minute Placement

With a last-minute placement, the timeline for deciding is greatly compressed. All parties must make up their minds quickly and there is far less space to second-guess their choices. When we adopted our son, this shortened decision period brought with it an increased focus. What was really important about a match became immediately clear and the non-essential matters faded into the background. We knew whether we shared similar expectations for our son’s future education was less urgent than providing him a loving home and ongoing contact with his birthfamily.

Oddly enough, the sense that this was the right match came to us faster than in the traditional match we had. We experienced plenty of anxiety in the few hours between receiving the call from IAC and going to the hospital, but the instant my wife and I laid eyes on our son all those questions and worries evaporated. We knew he was the child for whom we had waited and prayed. The last-minute placement also showed us how much we needed our family and community. Our friends rallied around us as we recovered from the shock of welcoming a beautiful redheaded boy into our home.

While the time for decision is compressed in a last-minute placement, the overall wait time is usually longer. In the majority of last-minute placements, the adoptive families have been waiting for over a year. But once that call comes from IAC, the speed with which the adoption machinery moves is staggering. Adoptive parents have to tell IAC staff over the phone whether they are willing to be chosen by the birthmother. The birthmother then looks through a stack of letters and makes her decision. When we agreed to the last-minute placement of our son, we had one phone conversation with the birthfamily. After a few minutes together in the hospital, our son’s birthmother cemented her decision to place him with us. It is shocking all parties involved would make such a life-changing commitment based on a few interactions. We left the hospital a little more than strangers, yet we were now intimately connected to each other because of the child.

The last-minute placement allows little space for detached reflection and thus requires all parties to have greater trust in the wisdom and experience of IAC staff. I don’t think my wife and I fully appreciated all that happened until our son was home with us and we were in the throes of parenthood. We became family with strangers in less than forty-eight hours. Certain differences in worldview and opinions had to be figured out and resolved after placement. In the intervening time since that first meeting we have grown to know and trust each other. It is now a strong relationship, but one we had to build after the fact.

A last-minute placement is also obviously extremely disruptive to any plans you have. You might have to buy last-minute plane tickets. We were at the tail-end of a vacation when we received the call about our son. Thankfully we didn’t have to end our vacation early, but we would have had he been born a day or two earlier. Once we agreed to the adoption, my wife and I immediately informed our employers we were starting family leave and not returning to work as scheduled.

The Similarities

Whether you have a traditional match or a last-minute placement, don’t forget any means of growing a family entails giving over a great deal of control. As adoptive parents, we are extremely aware of this fact. We cannot control how long we will wait to receive the call. We cannot ever fully prepare ourselves for adoption, in the sense of knowing all the twists and turns our paths will take.

We can, however, do the internal work to ready ourselves for long on-ramps or disruptive placements. My wife and I found in either type of match we needed the support of a community who could listen to us, help us process big questions, and encourage us through the process. As you wait, take the time to foster a helpful community of friends and family.

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Staying Positive in the Midst of Challenges

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by IAC’s waiting adoptive parent, Miriam Wolk, on staying positive regardless of the obstacles thrown in front of you.

staying-positive-amidst-challengesThe past two months have brought my husband and I two tough situations in our adoption journey. In June, we were matched with an expectant mother. We met her in person in July and all signs seemed to be pointing towards placing with us. However, a week later she delivered three weeks early and notified us by text that she had chosen to parent.

A week after this happened, we were surprised to discover that I was pregnant. This was something our doctors had said was most likely impossible without medical intervention. When I was approximately ten weeks along, the pregnancy ceased to be viable, and my doctors suggested I wait to see if I would miscarry naturally. Ultimately, I would need surgery. While we were waiting out the miscarriage, we received another contact from someone who had come across our adoption profile, but it was quickly discovered to be the beginning of a possible emotional scam and cut off contact.

Dealing with these disappointments in such a short amount of time has been a huge test for us on our adoption journey, but we have also learned quite a bit.

Build Your Support Army
While we didn’t feel comfortable publicly announcing our match, we did tell a few trusted friends and family. As part of the conversation, we were very open with them about different possibilities that could occur, including the expectant mother’s potential for choosing to parent. Having a core group of people in our lives that understood the potential outcomes, both positive and challenging on our end, was very helpful when our match fell through and we needed support.

We also had a strong base of support through our adoption Facebook page. While the main goal of our Facebook page was originally intended to get interest from potential expectant parents, it has also become great moral support for us to see how many of our friends and family are following our adoption journey and sharing our story with their networks. We didn’t discuss either the failed adoption or my miscarriage on our adoption page, but when I shared on my personal page that we had dealt with some challenges on our adoption journey (without getting into too many details) our friends and family’s comments and show of support were just what we needed.

Allow Time to Grieve and Recover
After both our failed adoption and miscarriage, my husband and I cocooned in our house. We ordered takeout and binge watched movies on Netflix. Having time with just the two of us together helped us work through our shock and sadness. We explained to our friends and family that we needed time with just the two of us and they were very understanding. I also found that journaling helped me to process my feelings. After our match fell through, I did a private writing exercise about the experience of our match from our first contact to the days after we found out the adoption wasn’t going through. Going through that writing exercise helped me process my feelings in a space where I felt emotionally safe.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
One situation that was particularly challenging for me emotionally was a recent family wedding. This would be the first time we were seeing a large part of my husband’s family since my miscarriage, including our new nephew who was born the same week we learned my pregnancy had failed. Knowing that I would likely be overwhelmed at times, I confided my feelings to one of our cousins and she reassured me when I needed it. With a few baby showers and other family/child focused events on the horizon, I know I’ll likely have mixed emotions, and that it’s okay to share I’m feeling sad and that I might need someone to help me process these feelings.

Find Joy
While there was a part of me that would have been content to watch “Breaking Bad” on an endless loop while eating lots of ice cream, getting back to our normal life routine and looking for fun activities has helped us heal when I was ready. My husband has been playing guitar and jamming with his band, and I’ve been working on knitting projects and seeing movies with friends. We also went to my 20th high school reunion and have lots of plans to celebrate Halloween, including volunteering with our neighborhood parade and festivities, and attending some costume parties. This winter, we’ll volunteer to make meals for DC Central Kitchen and put together toiletry kits for shelters, something we’ve done together every year since we first met. Having fun things to look forward to is helping us focus on the future and positive things to come.

Take Small Steps
A failed adoption and miscarriage in such a short period of time left me feeling overwhelmed and powerless about our adoption hopes. For me, taking small, proactive steps on our adoption activities has helped me feel as if I’m regaining some control over the process. My husband and I reviewed the paperwork we needed to update our home study and made plans to renew our clearances. We also renewed our social media outreach efforts, including our first try with a paid Facebook ad to raise awareness about our profile. While we know that there’s no magic formula to make another match happen, these proactive steps are helping me feel excited about the future of our journey.

Recognize Our Strength
While the past few months have been very, very hard, my husband and I feel very fortunate for a number of reasons. We have each other, as well as wonderful family and friends who have been immensely supportive. We know that what we’ve been through will strengthen our marriage and make us better parents when the time comes.

To learn more about Miriam and her husband, Michael, visit their profile at:

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5 Tips For a Smooth Adoption Letter Process


Businessman slipping on a banana

Are you about to start putting your adoption letter together?
Do you want to have a serious leg up on the competition?
Do you want to spend less time doing less work?

If you said “yes!” to these questions, I have a few tips I’d like to share with you.

There is a lot of information to be mindful of when beginning to pull your adoption letter content together — so much that you may notice us providing it to you in multiple formats: binders, videos, slideshows, meetings, paperwork, emails, etc. We do this because we understand how difficult it is to retain everything, and we don’t want you to miss anything.

Over the years, the Marketing and Design Associates have continued to implement new guidelines and update our videos/slideshows/binders in order to create a smoother adoption letter process. As clients ask questions, make comments, and find solutions to challenges, we learn from those moments and incorporate that knowledge in an effort to improve our efficiency for everyone.

From these efforts I’ve distilled a few tips that will save time, frustration and confusion. So here they are!

1. Keep the Letter Guidelines Nearby for Easy Reference
I know, this sounds obvious. However, with all the information you will be receiving, its useful to have the guidelines nearby as you prepare your letter. Its very important that your content is:

  • Within the maximum word count (we can’t edit it as effectively as you, so we’ll send it back).
  • Split into 7-10 sections, not in one big section.
  • Photos are clear and beautiful, not timestamped. No blurry photos of crying children please.

It can cost you time and frustration if we have to reiterate the same guidelines again with more detail, hoping to clear up any confusion.

2. Prepare for the Process with Patience
We all wish there were shortcuts through this process, but there just aren’t. Shortcut attempts we’ve seen include asking nicely for us to expedite your letter, calling so you can have your questions answered or feedback given via phone, saying you have a goal of being done by a certain date, sending incomplete content to get a “place in line” and sending the rest later, etc. We understand your urgency, and hope you understand everyone else feels this way too. So to prevent being frustrated later, prepare for and trust in our process.

3. Trust In Our Collective Expertise
The staff at IAC, including your Design Associate, are seasoned experts in this work. Sometimes clients disagree with us about the design of their letter/their photos/what text should be in the letter/etc. Usually, they end up accepting our feedback months later after a lot of back and forth. The letters from clients who put their full trust in us and give 100% end up getting into circulation more quickly, and typically go on to get matched quicker than average as well.

4. Personalize Your Content
In such a unique and personal type of letter, it isn’t possible for your Design Associate to write original content that adequately reflects your personality, quirks, lifestyle, relationship, etc. So, if you receive edits that will cause you to have to add more text, I sometimes give suggestions of things you could say. I would urge you to take those samples and come up with your own related content, or else you run the risk of sounding like the next family. You are a unique individual, with your own way of writing, and your own hobbies, family traditions, values, etc. – Make sure your letter shows it.

5. Present Your Best Self
Sometimes people will write a letter with the intent of being “genuine” or “real,” but when I read it, it just sounds negative. We talk so much about showing your true self in the letter that some people interpret this as meaning that they need to warn potential birthparents of certain perceived character flaws (“I talk WAY too much, and sometimes go off on tangents for hours!”) or unnecessary backstory (“I got divorced last year after 10 years of marriage, but I am now ready to start this journey of being a single mother”). Instead, realize that 99% of the time, that stuff won’t matter to a birthparent in real life, but at the same time, they may create a mental “pros and cons” list while reading and move on to another family that has no negative content in their letter.

I hope these five tips help you to put together the best letter possible. At the very least, you will save time and effort, and get into circulation a little bit quicker.


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Managing The “Mom Factor” As Same-Sex Parents

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by one of IAC’s waiting adoptive couples, Lance Klug & Juan Beltran, on being two dads and fulfilling the “mom role” as parents.

picture-16274-8582423b0db839aec7f21e63cbdf91b2“Which one of you is the mom?”

It hasn’t happened yet, but judging from all of the literature I’ve read in the first year of our adoption journey, I know the question is coming. Some gay dads find it offensive and get defensive, others struggle with the question themselves. For me and my husband, it was something we talked through extensively when we first started thinking about starting a family. It’s a loaded question filled with complexities, but by the end of our conversation the answer was obvious.

I like to think of myself as a natural nurturer. I was raised primarily by my mother, although my sister (two years older) and my aunt (my same age) never hesitated to impart their wisdom at every turn. And my grandmothers? Let’s just say the world has never seen two better ladies! All of that nurturing of me had to have rubbed off on me, right? The open expression of emotions sure did, as well as the unconditional love and the reassurance in knowing that I always had a soft place to land. That closeness, ease, and sense of belonging is something I value and something I know I can provide to our son or daughter. That, plus plenty of hugs and kisses that make children feel so safe and valued; I got them and I’ll give them.

Does that mean I’ll be the mom?

Actually, there’s no one more intuitive than my husband at sensing needs and responding with the perfect mix of validation, comfort, and support. I think he got it from his mom and dad, who raised him and his twin brother with so much love and affection. My husband tells me about how he used to see his mom get up in the middle of the night to make sure he and his brother were still covered and warm. I know he’ll do the same with our little one because he plays that caretaker role so well. His sister tells a story about when they were young and she was feeling so down about herself on the morning of school pictures. She never asked, but he picked up on her feelings and fixed her hair (yes, we’re gay) so she “felt beautiful,” as she recalls. He had no idea how much his affirmation meant to his sister until a few years ago when she shared the memory with us. My husband has this innate ability to make you feel special and I know our child is going to thrive in the comfort of that connection.

So that’ll make him the mom, right?

Not quite. You see, our child will already have a mom; the woman who gave birth to him or her. The reason we decided to pursue open adoption is so our little one will know exactly where he or she came from and about the courageous, selfless decision that ultimately created our family. We hope the birth family becomes part of our extended family and we plan to nurture that connection through pictures, open dialogue, and consistent contact.

As for the day-to-day nurturing stuff that evokes the warm mom memories in so many, we can do all of those things. Our lives have prepared us for this moment and we know we can provide our son or daughter with such a loving, happy, and stable home filled with precious memories of their own. Traditional gender roles dictate that mom is usually the one who wipes the tears and makes the sandwiches. But what about all of those stay-at-home dads? The single fathers? The widowers? The same sex couples? Research has shown that male primary caregivers actually develop dual brain patterns and develop the mindset most often associated with maternal care taking.

Of course, our child deserves strong female influences and we happen to have some amazing women in our lives. Not just moms, grandmas, aunts and cousins, but also a number of close female friends that are more like family to us. The “Will & Grace” phenomenon is very real! There’s a special relationship that develops between a gay man and his female friends; an almost sister/brother-like bond. We’re blessed with so much love and support from this network of family and friends. Even better is the knowledge that all of this love is waiting for our little one – whenever he or she arrives!

So, when we hear that inevitable question of “which one of you is the mom?” we’ll be ready with the simplest answer possible: Neither of us. And both of us.

To learn more about Lance & Juan, visit their profile at:


LÍLLÉbaby and The Guncles Partner to Create A Baby Carrier That Celebrates Adoption

LILLEbaby The Guncles Family Shot

All photos provided by

LÍLLÉbaby and The Guncles have partnered to create a baby carrier that celebrates adoption! September 29th was the official release date of a beautiful new collection of a limited edition baby and doll carrier. The carriers were inspired and designed by the Independent Adoption Center’s adoptive family, Scout Masterson and Bill Horn, in collaboration with LÍLLÉbaby.


LillieBabyImage 2


The vibrant print that adorns the carriers was designed by hand and truly from the heart. Here’s what Scout and Bill had to say about the process of bringing this wonderful cause and concept to life, “When our friends at LÍLLÉbaby suggested we create our own custom print to be featured on their popular carriers, we knew we wanted to design a bold, geometric print that was cheerful, sophisticated, and unique…We are proud to be able to use this project to benefit a charity near-and-dear to our hearts – the Independent Adoption Center.” What a wonderful way to show the love that adoption brings into their lives. The Guncles + LilleBaby Collection is available now and can be purchased by visiting and


All proceeds earned from the sale of this limited edition run of LÍLLÉbaby carriers will be donated to the I.A.C., and LÍLLÉbaby will match their donation. The I.A.C. will use the donation to assist adoptive parents with above expected or anticipated expenses, such as legal/medical fees. Learn more today about how you can support this amazing cause by visiting

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Project Nursery

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by one of IAC’s waiting adoptive couples, Chris Hargrove and Troy Turnipseed.

As we continue to put ourselves, our life and our journey into the universe for a birthmother to connect with us through open adoption, we are taking advantage of the “wait time” and directing our energy towards the nursery. We made the decision that once we went “live,” we would start the process of turning an empty office into a nursery full of hope and love. For us, #projectnursery began this past Father’s Day – we thought it was the perfect day to take the next step and are hopeful we will be spending next Father’s Day as dads to our own little girl or boy.

Now that we are three months into #projectnursery, we thought it would be helpful to share the process of what went into putting our nursery together when waiting to adopt and unsure of the timeline and gender. To be clear, we are not experts – just two dads-to-be learning about everything baby, and trying to decipher what is best for our child and us. The following is our list, in no particular order, of things we have done and/or learned thus far:

  1. Research. Before really beginning anything to do with the nursery, we did a lot of online research and reading of blogs and articles around the topics of adoption and creating a nursery. What we found most helpful was reading what other adoptive parents did or did not do, which gave us insight into how to set up our expectations and manage our emotions both good and bad. Tip: Talk to friends and family who have already set-up a nursery to see what their “must-haves” were.
  2. Location. For us, this was fairly simple. When we bought our house a couple years ago, we knew having a family was in our future so we made sure we had some additional bedrooms. All of our bedrooms are located on the second floor and we chose our office to be transformed into the nursery. Tip: Pick the room closest to your bedroom so you don’t have too far to travel in the middle of the night.
  3. floorFlooring. We made the choice to remove the carpeting and replace it with bamboo flooring. Because it was a small room (10’x13’), it was not difficult and only took about a week of working on it in the evenings when we got home from work to finish. This also gave us the opportunity to add a rug for an additional pop of color. Tip: If you are going to change from carpet to hard flooring, look for the kind that doesn’t warp with moisture and one that snaps together for easy installation.
  4. Theme. This was probably the hardest part for us. We spent hours online looking at different nursery designs, colors, layouts, etc. It can become quite overwhelming. The positive – we have time. We didn’t have to rush into anything and could wait until we really found something we wanted. Initially, we thought we would go the alphabet route, but then we kept finding ourselves drawn to elephants. We both really like grey and knew that would be a good neutral color to be included, so from that point forward, elephants it was! We never really changed our mind after that. We were also set on using yellow and white as accent colors, as we had some curtains left over from another part of the house we could reuse. Tip: Do your research and visit some baby stores before deciding on anything – there are more possibilities out there than you can image. There are wall decals for everything!
  5. wallPaint. Painting was our downfall for sure. We couldn’t figure out how we wanted the walls painted – all one color, multiple colors, patterns, etc. Should we do wall decals, wallpaper or stencils? Again, there were so many choices, so it was back to the internet to do a search of ‘yellow and grey nursery’ and ‘elephant nursery’ to get ideas. It was a good thought, but we got anxious and while at the paint store, impulsively purchased paint colors that went against what we had originally selected. We had the grand idea to paint the ENTIRE room yellow and paint grey elephant stencils over it. We even painted the closet yellow! This was, hands down, the worst decision we made. Thankfully, clearer heads prevailed and we went back to a room idea we found online, selected some yellow and greys that went with the rest of our house and ended up doing simple sectioned-off lines of color. A good, interesting and simple wall that could be enhance by any theme. Tip: Make sure to pick colors that won’t keep your child up at night!
  6. elephantAccent. Now that we had our flooring and painted walls set, it was time to think about adding some accents of theme. We don’t usually go too overboard with a theme and try to keep it simple, yet effective. Then, while making our first visit to buy buy BABY, we stumbled across everything elephant. Elephant blankets, lights, sheets, bottles, bibs, etc. But then we found it – they had the most perfect elephant wall decals. Simple, adorable and affordable. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with them, but we knew they were a must have. When we got home we initially thought they would go in the middle of the wall around the whole room, but it didn’t work. Finally it clicked to put them right above the baseboards in a family-like line in areas where we knew they wouldn’t be obstructed by furniture. It was perfect and it seems like a lot of other people agreed as the photo on our Facebook page has over 900 likes! Tip: Share each step of putting your nursery together on social media – it is a fun way to keep people engaged in your adoption journey.
  7. furnitureFurniture. We didn’t have any nursery furniture passed down through generations and we don’t have any little ones in the family that have out grown their nursery furniture yet, so we had to look at purchasing furniture. We went with clean lines and neutral look since we don’t know when it will be utilized. We also chose furniture that could grow with the child and met all the safety standards. However, our hunt for the perfect glider/rocker chair is still in progress. Tip: buy buy BABY takes a number of coupons, including Bed, Bath and Beyond. We were able to use a 20% off coupon for each piece of furniture.
  8. Accessories. This is our biggest temptation. Every time we are in a store, online or watching television we come across something we think would be super cute for the nursery. Stop yourself. Seriously – you don’t need everything you see and you don’t need to get it all now (we have to remind ourselves of that daily). Tip: Join Pinterest and create a “Nursery” board and every time you see something online or in a store that you like, pin it to the board – it saves what it is, where it is and how much it costs for you. Then, treat yourself to getting one thing a month for the nursery form that board (you can also add those items to your registry when the time comes).
  9. booksBooks. The reading area that we are going to set-up in the nursery is one of our favorite components. Many families create an area like this and we have found a number of them we like online. We are excited about the idea of displaying books for not only the range of color, but accessibility and functionality. We actually have an IKEA opening in our area next week, so we are holding off until we get there to purchase the book shelves. Tip: Check out Amazon and order children’s books that specifically speak to your family dynamic – there are a number of great ones out there about adoption, same-sex parents, transracial and unique families to name a few.
  10. Love. Make sure you fill the room with love. From paint strokes to furniture assembly to nightlight selection, enjoy the journey. However you imagine your nursery, it is going to be special because you built it with love. Tip: Save a place in the nursery to include a picture of your child’s birthmother.

There are certainly many more things that can be added to the list above, but those are the highlights we have experienced during #projectnursery thus far. We have learned that everything doesn’t and won’t be perfect. We have learned to enjoy this part of the process. We can see that it has helped keep us positive about our adoption journey and we have enjoyed sharing that process with those around us. With that said, creating a nursery during the wait may not be the right decision for every family, but it was right for us. You’ll know when it’s right, and when that time comes, you will already have the most important tool to start – love.

Chris Hargrove and Troy Turnipseed live in St. Louis, Missouri. They are hoping to adopt their first child soon. To learn more about Chris and Troy, visit:


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Texas Changes Course on LGBT Adoptions

In Texas, the Department of State Health Services has revised its policy to recognize same-sex adoptions.

19gwsux46qsebjpgAs of August 12th, LGBT couples can now receive amended birth certificates for their children with both parents names listed. This reversal in policy comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was ordered to appear before a judge at a contempt of court hearing. Paxton came under scrutiny after he advised Texas county clerks that they could refuse to issue vital documents (like a birth certificate) if it violated their personal religious beliefs. The contempt hearing has been postponed until September while the state implements the policy changes.

Here is the text of the revised policy issued last week by Texas:

For any adoption ordered on or after June 26, 2015, supplementary birth certificates for children born in Texas will be issued/amended for the adopted child to include same-sex couples whose names are listed on the court order or formal certificate of adoption as the adoptive parents. Documentation must be provided to this effect, along with other standard documentation required for issuance/amendment of a supplementary birth certificate for an adoption.

For adoptions ordered prior to June 26, 2015, amendments to supplementary birth certificates previously issued, will be processed and issued, as requested, to list the names of both persons of the same-sex couple if both are named as parents in the court ordered adoption. Documentation must be provided to this effect, along with other standard documentation required for issuance of an amendment to a supplementary birth certificate for an adoption.

Currently the amended birth certificate will still list parents as “Mother” and “Father”, but the software that is responsible for printing this language is being updated, according to the Texas DSHS.

At Independent Adoption Center, we welcome with excitement these important policy updates. We also acknowledge with gratitude the advocacy groups, citizens, and lawmakers who fought to make this possible: State Representative Rafael Anchia, Lamda Legal and Ken Upton Jr, John Stone-Hoskins, Daniel McNeel Lane Jr, and many others.

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Creating Your Own Adoption Video

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by hopeful adoptive parents, David & Ana Ogilvie, with tips on doing your own adoption video.

My husband, David, and I are a waiting adoptive family with IAC. One of the ways we’ve decided to break up the wait AND help get us out there a little further was to make an adoption video. We definitely knew we wanted to do it, but we were intimidated by the process and didn’t know how to start. Not to mention, we were embarrassed and a little self-conscious about the whole idea. BUT! We got ‘er done and IT WAS FUN! We highly recommend it!

It was so fun in fact, that I decided to write a blog post about it to hopefully inspire a few fellow “waiters” out there in IAC-Land to make one too. It feels good to DO something and it feels good to reach a place where you feel proud of yourself, the life you’ve built, and express the love you already feel for your future child and his/her first family. Take a chance and go for it. I promise you, it’s worth it!

Plus, I’m here to support you and offer you some pointers to start you on your way.

First off, let’s talk equipment. You don’t need anything special. We used a point and shoot camera with video function. But you can also use your standard iPhone just as easily. Regarding video editing software, we used Windows Movie Maker which was a part of the regular Windows package. You’re going to want access to a laptop or desktop computer to do the editing as working from your phone would be a total headache. Windows Movie Maker wasn’t the “coolest” editing software around I’m sure, but it was simple to figure out. Once we completed the editing, we uploaded to YouTube and that was it!

Now that you know what programs to use, let’s talk content. David and I introduced our video via a short interview. This was by far the hardest part. At first, we included waaaayyyyyy too much dialogue because we felt we had so much we wanted to express to our future child’s first family. It was long, it was emotionally heavy, and it was… boring. I’ll admit it. We learned a lot by the time we got to what seemed like our 75th take.

Let me save you some time and frustration and give you some tips right out of the gate:

  1. Keep it short (about 1 minute) – Say only what you need to say and let the rest of the video speak for itself.
  2. Take a few deep breaths and get comfortable – Try and be as natural as possible. Our animals were in the frame and it totally worked (I hope!). One was invited and the other was a total photo-bomb.
  3. Allow yourself to be animated – BE HAPPY! BE EXCITED! – Let yourself be yourself. You will shine if you do.
  4. If you’re hoping to adopt with a partner, speak equally – Nothing shows commitment like speaking up.
  5. Do as many takes as you need – You know what your best is and if what you have isn’t it, do it again. You owe it yourself to get this part right.

Now it’s time to demonstrate bits and pieces of your life. You can do this by showing video clips with dialogue in between or like we did, splicing video clips together with volume silenced and music added in over the top. We really liked this method and felt like it provided a great overall glimpse into who we are as a family. We shot all our video on one Sunday doing exactly what we would have normally done that day. This doesn’t have to be difficult! But what it does have to be is honest. If it’s not honest, it won’t be a good video. Also, don’t feel like you have to have a “videographer” with you following you around; you don’t have to be in every shot. Feel free to have just one of you starring in each scene and remove that pressure.

Here are some tips for shooting good clips:

  1. Introduce activities you like to do – Take some footage of that intermural soccer tournament you’re spending your entire Saturday at, your latest knitting creation, cooking dinner or working from your home office. Who cares! Visual details are interesting, no matter what!
  2. Introduce your other kids (if applicable), your extended family, friends, and/or your pets – Panorama shots and close ups are great for this.
  3. Try to capture your whole home environment to give a “sense of place” – A simple walk through your neighborhood can be so heart-warming and informative for a birth parent to see.
  4. Showcase the natural beauty of where you live – Do you live near gorgeous mountains, a river, lake, ocean, farmland, or an incredible city skyline? Think about it and really take advantage of the beauty inherent to where you live.
  5. If you use music, choose a song that means something to you – One that represents some aspect of how you feel about the adoption process, the birth family you plan share yours with, or your future child.
  6. Take as much video as you want – You’ll edit out HUGE chunks later.
  7. Keep your total video length to about 3-4 minutes – Too long is just that… too long.

Okay! So now you have a bunch of hard-earned pointers from us. Go forth and video! You’ll be glad you did. Good luck!

To see our FULL video (4:58), please feel free: or read more about us here:

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How to Refocus Discouragement During a Long Wait

How did I get here?

A Long WaitIt’s a question you may be asking yourself a lot lately. With this question can come the feelings of discouragement, disappointment and even at times, deep sadness. The fact that you may feel like you keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep ending up in the same place is frustrating! But feeling like this is okay! Remember we are all human and feel pain.

Taking time to reflect, refocus and even nurture yourself is something we all need to do because it is worthwhile. There is a purpose in what you are currently experiencing. To learn from it will only help you move in the direction of your goal, to not only become a parent but a parent that never takes their child for granted.

Remember everything you are going through is preparing you to ultimately achieve what you are seeking. The fact that you are reading this article is proof that you are looking to turn your current feelings into hope and possibility. All you may need is to be reminded of the tools to do so.

I am sure you have heard that although you can’t control everything that happens to you, you can control the way you respond to what happens. Well it’s true! How you feel corresponds to your thoughts that “you” are responsible for. If you are ruminating, complaining, blaming or focusing on just yourself, you put yourself in a downward spiral.

When you find yourself filled with negative thoughts replace them with reaffirmations. Ask yourself constructive questions and give yourself positive answers instead of negative ones. If what you have tried hasn’t worked then change your strategies to pave the way for positive action. Sometimes changing directions and taking the smallest steps can put things in motion.

Never stop visualizing your child and what it will be like to be his/her parent. Remember accomplishing your goal is positive and the wrong mental attitude can push away all that you are hoping for. Worse yet, it can sabotage your dreams. Keep replacing any negative thoughts regarding not matching yet by reminding yourself that every day you are one step closer. Be grateful for all the gifts that you have been given and know that patience, persistence and faith are the keys!


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