Open Adoption Blog


IAC Family Adopts Despite Obstacles

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Photo copyright Omaha.com

Any waiting adoptive family knows that with adoption, you never know how or when that moment of adopting will come, you can only prepare for the time that moment arrives. For Jason Holling & Justin Karas, this couldn’t be more true. After starting their adoption journey in 2013 they were contacted by a birthmother who ultimately placed with her sister, a scam contact, and an expecting mother who they just weren’t able to form a strong relationship with – all within a year’s span. But Jason & Justin didn’t give up hope. In mid 2014 they were contacted by a pregnant woman and matched with her on Father’s Day. To read more about Jason & Justin’s story of struggle and triumph click here: http://www.omaha.com/living/omaha-couple-after-hurdles-and-hiccups-in-adoption-journey-are/article_75ef957d-f505-5e2e-96a8-3785f82ab5ba.html

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Finding Balance In The Present Moments

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by one of IAC’s waiting adoptive parents, Sarah Farrar, on living in the present moment, and finding the fun in the days pre-adoption.

In the adoption wait, you are your own worst enemy. The easiest person to blame for a longer wait is yourself. This is a self-defeating attitude and in no way the truth.

Placing blame on yourself is not doing anyone a bit of good, especially you. My brain is always seeking answers for why not us? What are we doing wrong? Will we ever be parents?

The key to it all is that there is no rhyme or reason as to when your wait will be over. There is nothing we are doing wrong. In fact, we are doing it all right. We have explored just about every networking option there is. We keep our accounts current, with updated pictures, anecdotes about our lives, and make sure everyone we meet knows we are waiting to adopt.

It is really easy to feel defeated and break down on “mile marker” anniversaries, like our two year waiting anniversary. Oh yes, I truly did break down that day. It was ugly. It was a day I did not think I would get through, but I did. It is likely that other events like holidays and birthdays become harder during the wait. Some days, it is basically impossible to get through baby showers and kid’s birthday parties.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

What is another anniversary of your adoption wait? It’s a day closer to becoming a parent. Yes, I know that is one of those things you hear again and again, but it really is the truth. What is another Christmas childless? Just that, another Christmas just the adults. Break out the spiked cider and celebrate. Another birthday is coming up and you still haven’t adopted? Sounds like the perfect time for a huge birthday bash with your friends. Bummer for them they have to pay for a baby sitter!

There is plenty of time in the future to play Santa Claus or spend your birthday changing diapers. The adoption wait is a time to do all of the stuff that would be hard to do later on as a parent. Drive to another city to see your favorite band play. Take an impromptu beach trip or go hike that mountain you set your eyes on years ago. Or hey, get really wild and let the vacuuming slip for a week or so. Can’t do that with a baby in the house!

Yes, we would all sacrifice spiked cider and huge birthday bashes for night after night at home with our babies. We did not go through all we have been through, because we prefer partying to parenting. We would vacuum eight times a day if it meant we were parents. In the meantime, we have to get through the wait in one piece.

Ask me again tomorrow and I could write you a whole new story on this topic. That is the adoption wait for you. It is the wildest roller coaster ride you will ever go on. Today my roller coaster is more of a relaxed train ride. Today my glass is half full. Today I have full faith that we will be parents before too long. Today I choose to blame no one for our path, but to simply choose to just be us. We are Sarah and John, future adoptive parents, living in the present.

To learn more about John & Sara, visit their profile at: http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/sarahandjohnadopt

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Interview with an Adoptee Author: A True Insider’s Perspective

cover-Heart Picked

   Image provided by heartpickedwithlove.com.

We interviewed author and adoptee Sara Crutcher about her children’s book, Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale. Within its pages are vivid and colorful illustrations that enhance a worthwhile narrative! Sara’s book is sure to be a wonderful learning tool for adoptees and for families considering adoption or who have already adopted. The book addresses some of the complex realities adoptees can face with an easygoing, upbeat tone, which is helpful when exploring possible solutions with children. Everyone’s adoption story is unique and what’s even more interesting about Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale is that it is centered on Sara’s true-life experiences as an adoptee. It was a great pleasure to speak with Sara about her adoption story and learn more about her children’s book on adoption. Here’s the interview:

Please tell us about yourself and your connection to adoption.

I am a new children’s book author, living in Detroit, MI. I was adopted when I was 6 weeks old and consider adoption one of my greatest blessings. I was fortunate to be adopted by wonderful parents who have provided me a great life. My father has worked in higher education for his entire professional career, which allowed us to move around a lot as I was growing up. I went to 7 different schools before graduating from high school! I guess moving has become a part of me, because after graduating from Hampton University in 2006, I’ve lived in 4 different cities. I love to travel and experience the joys of life. I have had the privilege of traveling abroad numerous times, most recently to Berlin, Germany where my parents lived for a year on sabbatical!

What are your main inspirations for creating this book?

Various things in my life were the inspiration for the book. My favorite color is yellow, so Elizabeth had to wear a yellow dress. My dad always wears a suit and bow tie to work, so I had to make sure the father in the book had a similar style! My mom always wears pearls and also worked while I was growing up. I wanted to make sure to portray working and married parents (my parents celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary this November).

I love fruit and eat it every day. I wanted to show a family who embraces a healthy lifestyle (similar to how I was brought up). We did family activities together like riding bikes and playing various games. My dad is also a professional cellist and has played since he was 13 (he is now 68). I started playing the violin when I was 5 and we played many duets together. I wanted to show that in the book! Lastly, we are a huge ice cream/sorbet family after dinner so that had to end the story!

What do you feel families can benefit from the most with your book?

I hope my book will help children and families to have a positive and confident outlook on being adopted. I think it is very important for adoptive parents to be open and honest with their children about their adoption. The impact on children who are kept in the dark or find out about their adoption outside the family can have a lasting and negative impact through adulthood. My parents told me I was adopted when I was around 5 years old. They were very honest with me and showed me all of the paperwork on my adoption. After we had conversations about adoption, I internalized it and kept a lot of things to myself. I was in therapy for a short time, but I really just listened to the other kids talk. Adoption can be a lifelong struggle for some people, but with positive guidance and love, it can be a much easier journey.

 Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale features an African-American family who has adopted transracially.  The main character, Elizabeth, faces a different matter in that she doesn’t “look” like her parents and wonders how she can address this.  Can you tell us how you hope this could help some African-American families considering adoption or families considering transracial adoption?

The ethnicity of Elizabeth is actually left up to the reader. Depending upon who is reading the story and their background, she could be transracial or an African-American girl who has a light completion. I wanted Elizabeth to look different from her parents as many adoptive children do. I don’t want to put her in a certain group but rather wanted the reader to decide. There are a lot of children who look different from their parents whether they were adopted, foster care, stepchildren or simply have different physical characteristics from the rest of their family. While the book focuses on adoption, I want readers from all walks of life to benefit from the message. Adoption is love and love has no color. Differences are what help us to be a better society. We should not be afraid of our differences but embrace them in order to make us better human beings.

How long was the book writing process and what was your favorite part about creating the book?

The entire process took about a year. The story came fairly quickly although I made several revisions during the process. I self-published the book through Mascot Books. The initial process was truly a blessing. When I told my mom I was going to write children’s books (which was no surprise as this has always been one of my many life goals and I wrote many short stories in my youth) she sent me a few books to read. While reading one, I saw the publisher information and did a Google search. I submitted my manuscript and within a few days, they contacted me eager to publish my book. I would say my favorite part was the illustrations although this was the part that had the most revisions. I had a vision of very bold illustrations with vibrant colors. I was introduced to Romney Vasquez through my publisher and I am so pleased with his work. We went back and forth A LOT but we finally got everything perfect!

What are your biggest hopes for Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale and how it can aid other adoptees?

I hope Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale will encourage more families to adopt. Adoption is a beautiful blessing for thousands of children yearning for a loving home. Adoption for many children is a hard topic to process and understand. Similar to other young girls, Elizabeth is experiencing a lot of emotions about being adopted. Through her parents’ positive communication with her, she is able to develop a confident outlook on adoption to help her talk to other peers when her family differences are discussed. Adoption should never be looked at as a negative but always with positivity and high self-esteem.

What has adoption made you thankful for or what does adoption mean to you?  

I am thankful for life. My birth family could have chosen another route so I am thankful to them for choosing adoption. I had a closed adoption and have no information on my birth family aside from their medical history at the time and a few physical characteristics. When I was writing this book, my mom said it would be a great healing tool for me. At the time I did not understand what she meant, but now I do. My birth family made the difficult decision to place me up for adoption, which allowed my parents to be blessed with a child. From that, I was blessed with an amazing life. Adoption is an act of selfless love and I am blessed to be part of the adoption community.

Top Left and Bottom: Family photos of Sara with her parents. Right: Sara as a child with her father’s cello.

Top Left and Bottom: Family photos of Sara with her parents. Right: Sara as a child with her father’s cello.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Sara for taking the time to answer our questions and for giving us more insight into your adoption story as well as your book. Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale is now available for purchase on heartpickedwithlove.com.  It’s also available for pre-order and will be fully released on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million on January 5th 2016.

All images included were provided by heartpickedwithlove.com and the author, Sara Crutcher.

 

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To The Person Who Allowed me To Be A Parent

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan them, but it all works out the way it was meant to and on the path you were meant to travel. This couldn’t be more true for Dan Walter and his wife, Melanie Jameson. Former IAC clients, they faced some unforeseen circumstances and had to change states and ultimately discontinue working with our agency. Nonetheless, what they learned about open adoption from the IAC carried with them until they adopted. In this moving poem written by Dan, he expresses his gratitude to his child’s birthmother, and how her involvement is important to not just their son, but to the adoptive parents.

Poem for Birthmom

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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…..so 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: http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/thewolks

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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: http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/beltranklug

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

LILLEbaby The Guncles Family Shot

All photos provided by http://lillebaby.com

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.

 

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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 LILLEbaby.com and Amazon.com.

 

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 LILLEbaby.com

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