Open Adoption Blog


IAC Adoption Experts Featured on Parenting Website

Our longtime readers know that here at the IAC, as the home of many nationally recognized 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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The Line

Editor: How much difference can a single mile make in the protection the law offers a family? Jason and Justin, an adoptive family from Nebraska, answer this question and describe their efforts to improve the situation.

The Nebraska Iowa borderJustin and I enjoy our warm sunny evenings sharing dinner on the Missouri River after a long day at work.  We sit on the Nebraska riverfront landing looking over at the water as we face the Iowa border.  After dinner we take a 3-mile walk with our black lab Molly that includes crossing a 3000-foot pedestrian bridge crossing the river.  We remember this bridge distinctly as part of our weekly walk along the river.   Not just because the bridge is huge or because we get a good view of the sun setting, but because there is a line shown in the cement calling out the border of Nebraska as we cross into Iowa.   When the bridge was first opened, it was fun to straddle the line and joke about being in two states at once.   But lately when I see the line I am filled with a sense of disappointment that I can step over from one state where my relationship of ten years with Justin can be recognized in marriage.   Stepping back to Nebraska, our relationship means nothing in the eyes of the state.   The same line also has legal implications when we do adopt depending on where we meet our birthmother. While Iowa recognizes second parent adoption, when we cross back onto the Nebraska side we are no longer allowed to adopt jointly and only one of us will be recognized as the legal parent.

Postcards to SenatorsIn March of this year, Justin and I decided we needed to help be a voice of change so that when we see that line on our walk, it no longer symbolizes the inequality between the states.  We assisted with a postcard campaign to get a bill out of the Nebraska State Judiciary Committee that supported the need to allow second parent adoption by two unmarried qualified adults in Nebraska. We collected post cards and helped people find their senator to write to at tables in our church at the morning and evening services.  At the end of the day, our 150 postcards were pulled together with thousands of other voices from around the city.  The group that helped organize the postcard campaign took the postcards to Lincoln, Nebraska to deliver to the senators.

While it was a normal hectic workweek, I found time to drive to Lincoln with other supporters of the bill and make my voice heard.   On the way to Lincoln, my mind drifted to the thought of what life would be like if this bill did not pass allowing for second parent adoption.  It would mean for us if one parent not recognized legally tried to take our child to the hospital in the event of emergency, they could be turned away for healthcare because they were not a legal parent on paper.  Imagine arriving at the hospital in a panic to find my partner of ten years and our child together waiting in the emergency room unable to enter because their one dad was not permitted to make medical decisions.

Or if something happened where one of us passed away in an accident and the certainty of our child staying with their living dad would be in jeopardy because only one of their parents would be recognized as under the law.  Both dads shared in all the joys of watching them grow up, raising them, and reading to them before bed equally.   But now that equally part is seen differently – now the state is allowed to tell our child that one of their dads didn’t mean as much and is not legally recognized as a parent because second parent adoption is not the law in Nebraska.

Speaking at a news conferenceWe pride ourselves on figuring out this winding path of LGBT adoption in our state along with other brave people. We don’t know what hurdle is waiting for us on the next leg of our journey – but we are not afraid to keep going until we hold our child safely in our arms.  So that day in Lincoln, I got to share the story about adoption and the journey Justin and I are on.   I made my voice heard about why the bill to support second-parent adoption was important for the safety and security of our LGBT family.  And people heard it. I got emails, texts, phone calls, and Facebook messages. But best of all we now have a chapter to tell our wonderful birth mother in our adoption story. We now have a chapter to share with our child in our adoption story.  A story that we hope shows our child how much we loved and cared for them before we were even able to hold them tight in our arms.

Justin and I both are keeping an eye on where marriage equality and the second parent adoption bill take us in Nebraska over the next year. Once we do match with a birthmother and adopt our child, we want to ensure we are not only protecting each other, but our child too.  It’s amazing that one little line on the bridge can separate a committed loving family from so many basic rights that people take for granted every day. We know there are many many other lines like this in our world.  And we hope our child comes into a world and continues to not be afraid to step over the lines to be part of the change their dads hoped for — a world where there is equality for other LGBT families that provide safe, loving, compassion-filled homes full of dreams and hopes for their children.

If you would like to see the video of Jason’s interview from channel 8 in Lincoln (KLKN) , click here.

Read more about Jason and Justin’s journey to become parents on adopt.JasonandJustin.com.

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The Open Adoption Hospital Plan

Why is it important to create a hospital plan in an open adoption? What should adoptive and birthparents prepare for?

New mom and baby in hospitalLast week, IAC’s Dr. Jennifer Bliss joined the Creating a Family radio show to discuss the different issues and concerns that a good hospital plan can help to address.

Dr. Bliss was joined by Rebecca Vahle, who runs an adoption support program at Parker Adventist hospital in Colorado. Together they discussed issues such as:

  • The training hospital social workers usually get around adoption, whether or not it is sufficient.
  • How adoptive parents might be treated at the hospital: are they welcome or not?
  • Hospital nurses reactions to adoption plans.
  • Accommodations in the hospital for both birth and adoptive parents.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Due in large part to the common misconceptions about adoption, there are a myriad of issues that can come up during the birth and hospital stay. The best way to prepare for this is to have a hospital plan in effect and to make sure hospital staff are aware of this plan. Nurses, doctors, and social workers are obviously doing what they think is right so, when that comes into conflict with the needs of the adoptive or birth parents, a little information and a plan can go a long way. Of course, having a reputable and capable adoption agency in your corner will be helpful if and when any potential problems arise.

I encourage you to check out the entire Creating a Family radio show at this link.

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